Step-by-step Be ready for PC emergencies
Prepare your USB stick
First, you’ll need a USB flash drive – 1GB will be fine. Plug it into your PC and open File Explorer, then right-click it in the menu on the left, select Rename and name it ‘Emergency’. If you’ve used the flash drive before, you can wipe it by right-clicking it and selecting Format > ‘Restore device defaults’ > OK. Make sure there isn’t anything you want to keep on the USB flash drive first.
Prepare for accidents
Now to build your toolkit. A common disaster is accidentally deleting a file – from your hard drive, an SD card or other storage. Piriform Recuva can help you get it back, but installing this after you’ve lost files can result in them being overwritten. It’s far better to have it ready to run from your USB stick. Download it from www.piriform.com/recuva – using ‘Manual download’ is easiest.
Recover deleted files
Click the downloaded ZIP file in your browser, and select Extract > ‘Extract all’. Click ‘Browse’ and select your USB flash drive. Right-click and create a folder called ‘Recuva’ (to make it easier to find in future). Open this folder and click ‘Select folder’ > Extract. Now if you need to restore a deleted file, just plug in your USB flash drive, double-click Recuva.exe and follow the instructions.
Download a virus-zapper
If you suspect your PC has a virus, McAfee Labs Stinger can help stop it in its tracks. Download it from www.mcafee.com/uk/ downloads/free-tools/stinger.aspx. This program doesn’t come in a ZIP archive, so once it’s downloaded you can drag the EXE file straight to your USB flash drive using File Explorer. When you want to run it, just double-click the file and click Scan.
Get ready for a deep clean
If your PC is running slow, or you’re getting error messages about corrupted files, CCleaner can save the day. Download it from www.piriform.com/ccleaner/builds (it’s the second link), then extract the downloaded file to your USB flash drive just as you did for Recuva, saving it in a new folder called ‘CCleaner’. To run it, double-click the file CCleaner.exe.
Sweep away junk and fix errors
To free up extra space and improve performance, click Analyze and CCleaner will search your hard drive for unnecessary files. Once it’s finished, look through the list, uncheck the boxes next to anything you want to keep, then click Run Cleaner. To solve errors with the Windows registry, select Registry from the menu on the left and select ‘Scan for issues’ > ‘Fix selected issues’.
Get set to blast malware
Emsisoft Emergency Kit, from www.emsisoft.com/en/ software/eek/, will check your PC for programs that aren’t strictly viruses but are still malicious. Double-click the downloaded file and it will run an installer, which automates the process of extracting the files from a ZIP archive. Select your USB flash drive as the destination, make a folder called ‘Emsisoft’ and click OK.
Ready for anything
Double-click Start Emergency Kit Scanner and let Emsisoft update itself. Now, whenever you think your PC has a malware infection (you notice unexpected changes to your web browser, for example), insert your USB flash drive, launch Emsisoft, click Scan and follow the instructions. Label the USB flash drive and keep it handy – you never know when you’ll need it.